Slike strani

and made use of threats and language that he would otherwise have probably declined. Notwithstanding the inclemency of the season he set about erecting works. His batteries were composed: of snow and water, which soon became solid ice. He planted on them five pieces of ordnance, twelve and nine pounders, with one howitzer; but the artillery was inadequate, and made no impression; it was therefore soon in contemplation to storm the city. [Dec. 16.] A council was held by all the commanding officers of col. Arnold's detachment in the evening; and a large majority was for storming the garrison, as soon as the men were provided with bayonets, spears, hatchets, and hand granades. In a few days several of the men were ill of the small-pox those who were well and fit for service were ordered to wear hemlock sprigs in their hats to distinguish them in the attack upon the works. [Dec. 25.] Col. Arnold's detachment paraded in the evening, at capt. Morgan's quarters, when gen. Montgomery attended, and addressed them on the subject of an assault on Quebec, in a sensible spirited manner. The scheme of storming was wholly the general's who in the council of war on the occasion, showed the necessity, practicability, and importance of it, in such a clear and convincing manner, that they were all agreed and full in the measure. But he was forced into the scheme from this circumstance, that a part of his army had to serve no longer than to the end of the year, and three companies of Arnold's de tachment were uneasy, and were determined to return home. His army did not now exceed eight hundred sick and well; only seven hundred and thirty were fit for duty. The attempt had the appearance of rashness, but the general was persuaded that men, who had behaved so well, would follow him, and that many of Sir Guy Carleton's forces would not fight, when actual service com→ menced. The general in his dispatches wrote, [Dec 36.] “Ł have so early reported to you my determination to return home, I take it for granted measures are taken to supply my place. Should not any body arrive, I must conclude congress mean to leave the management of affairs in gen. Wooster's hands, (Wooster was at Montreal.) If this business should terminate in a block. ade, I shall think myself at liberty to return. However if possible, I shall first make an effort for the reduction of the town. I had reason to believe, when I wrote last, the troops well inclined for a coup de main. I have since discovered, that three companies of col. Arnold's detachment are averse. They are within a few day of being free from their engagements: I must try every measure to prevent their departure." Dec. 27.] The next day

Dr. Linn's letter to me.


at evening the troops assembled by his order, with design to make an attack and were about to march, when a fresh order came for their returning to quarters-the weather being thought not proper. Several men deserting to the enemy, the general was induced to alter his plan, so that no part of it transpired to the besieged. (Dec. 30.] The weather being stormy, and the ladders' being ready, the troops were ordered to parade at two o'clock the next morning.

[Dec. 31.] The troops assemble at the time appointed-they that are to make the attack by the way of Cape Diamond, at the general's quarters on the heights of Abraham, and are headed by the general-they that are to make the attack through the suburbs of St. Roe, at the guard-house in St. Roe, and are headed by col. Arnold. The division under Montgomery consists of the 1st: 2d. 3d. and 4th. battalions of the New-York troops, and part of col. Easton's regiment; but of about two hundred men only. The division under Arnold is made up out of the two battalions detached from Cambridge, and amount to about three hundred. Col. Livingston, with a regiment of one hundred and sixty Canadians, and major Brown with part of a regiment of Massachusetts troops, are to make a false attack upon the walls to the southward of St. John's gate, and in the mean time to set fire to the gate with the combustibles prepared for that purpose. The colonel is also to give the signals for the combination of attack, which is to begin exactly at five o'clock. (It is said that capt. Frazer of the emigrants, then on picket, going his rounds, saw the rockets fired off as signals, and from his knowledge of the service forming a conjecture of what would happen, beat to arms without orders, and so prepared the garrison for defence.) The different routes the assailing bodies have to make, the depth of the snow, and other obstacles, prevent the execution of Livingston's command. The general moves with his division, attended by a number of carpenters, to the pickets at Cape Diamond. These are soon cut with the saws, and the general pulls them down with his own hands. He enters with his aid de camp Mr. McPherson, Mr. Antill the engineer, capt. Cheeseman, and the carpenters. As they are entering, their guides forsake them; which alarms the general and other officers, who are unacquainted with the pass and situation of the enemy's artillery. They however press on. The general observing that the troops do not follow with spirit, calls out " Fie! for shame! shall the NewYork troops desert the cause in the critical moment? Will you not follow when your general leads? Push on brave boys, Quebec is ours." A few act with resolution, advance, and attack the guard-house, when the enemy give a discharge of grape shot


from their cannon, and of small arms; which occasions the fall of the general, his aid de camp, capt. Cheeseman and others. The firing from the guard-house ceases, by the enemy's quitting their post, and the opportunity offers for the assailants to push forward with success. But the deputy quarter master general Campbell, with the rank of a colonel, assumes the command; and not being equal to the special service of the moment, unhappily orders a retreat, which takes place and the wounded are carried off to the camp.

We now come to col. Arnold's division, which is ordered to proceed in the following manner, viz. a lieutenant and thirty men are to march in front as an advanced guard; then the artillery company with a field piece mounted on a sled; after that, the main body, of which capt Morgan's company is first. The advanced party is to open, when near the battery raised upon a wharf, which the assailants are obliged to attack in their way; and when the field piece has given them a shot or two, the advanced party are to rush forward with the ladders, and force the battery, while capt. Morgan's company are to march round the wharf if possible, on the ice. But the snow being deep, the piece of artillery is brought on very slowly, and is finally obliged to be left behind. The main body also are led wrong. There is no road, the way is dark and intricate, among stores, houses, boats and wharfs; and they are harassed at the same time with a constant fire of the enemy from the walls, which kills and wounds numbers, without their being able in the least to annoy them. The field piece not coming up, the advanced party with capt. Morgan's company attack the battery, some firing into the port-holes, or kind of embrasures, while others scale the battery with ladders and immediately take possession of it and of the guard consisting of thirty men. This attack is executed with such dispatch, that the enemy discharge only one of their canOne or two men are lost on each side. Colonel Arnold receives a wound in one of his legs with a musket ball, and is carried to the general hospital. When the prisoners are taken care of, and a few men come up (which is in about half an hour) the men attempt the next barrier, but cannot force it as the main body is some time before it can arrive, occasioned by the beforementioned obstacles. The enemy moreover, having the oppor tunity, from the retreat of Montgomery's division after his fall, turn their whole force and attention upon this, so that before it can attempt the second barrier the assailed get such a number of men behind the barrier, and in the houses, that the assailants are surrounded with a fire from treble their number, and find it impossible to force it, the former being under cover, while the



latter are quite exposed: here they lose some brave officers and men. What adds to their embarrassment, they fail of being aided by a company of their comrades, who were quartered on the north side of the river St. Charles, and not having notice in season, in endeavouring to join the main body, are surprised and mostly taken prisoners, by a party, who make a sortie through palace gate. They who are near the second barrier, at length take possession of some houses, and from them keep up a constant fire for some time; but as the party, which sallied out of palace gate, comes upon the rear of the assailants, and the number of these is greatly lessened by killed and wounded, it is thought best to retreat to the first battery. This they do with the greatest part of their men, where, upon a consultation of officers present, it is the unanimous opinion, that a further retreat is impractica ble. They maintain their ground till ten o'clock and all hope of relief being over, are at last obliged to surrender prisoners of war, with great reluctuance.

By the best account that can be obtained at present, they have fost in killed and wounded about a hundred-one captain and two lieutenants killed-col. Arnold, two captains, two lieutenants, and a brigade major, wounded. The loss of the general's division is, the general, his aid, capt. Cheeseman, and half a score privates killed, beside the wounded. The general was shot through both his thighs and his head. His body was taken up the next day: an elegant coffin was prepared, and he was decently enterred the Thursday after. We are toid, that when his body was taken up his features were not in the least distorted, but his countenance appeared regular, serene and placid-like the soul that had lately animated it. The general was tall and slender, well limbed, of easy, graceful and manly address.He had the voluntary love, esteem and confidence of the whole army. He was of a good family in Ireland, and served with reputation in the late war with France. His excellent qualities and disposition procured him an uncommon share of private affection his abilities, of public esteem. His death is considered as a greater loss to the American cause, than all the others with which it was accompanied.

When the continental troops had collected after the unsuccessful attack on Quebec, there was a dispute who should command and whether it was advisable to raise the siege, or tarry until a reinforcement should arrive. A council of war agreed, that col. Arnold should command, and should continue the siege, or rather the blockade, which was accordingly done, apparently at no small risk, as they had not many more than four hundred men fit for duty. But they retired about three miles from the

city, and posted themselves advantageously*. After mentioning, that the prisoners made in the attempt to surprise Montreal have been sent to Great-Britain, and col. Allen in irons, let us return. to Boston and its environs.

[Feb. 14.] About four in the morning, a party from the castle under col. Leslie joined another, amounting to about five hundred, sent over the ice to Dorchester Neck by gen. Howe. They burnt about half a dozen houses; but the general's scheme failed. He had been up the whole night, getting ready for an attack with a large body of troops. He expected, that the burning of the houses would occasion such an alarm, as to put the American officers upon sending from Roxbury lines a large reinforcement, and thereby giving him an advantageous opportunity of attacking them; but at day break, he found their men as usual at their alarm posts, so that he declined it. The strength of the ice having been tried in one place, and the frost continuing, general Washington was desirous of embracing the season for passing over it, from Cambridge side into Boston. He laid before a council of war [Feb. 16.] the following question: "A stroke well aimed at this critical juncture, may put a final period to the war, and restore peace and tranquility so much to be wished for, and therefore whether, part of Cambridge and Roxbury bays being frozen over, a general assault should not be made on Boston?" General Ward opposed the idea, saying, "The attack must be made with a view of bringing on an engagement, or of driving the enemy out of Boston, and either end will be answered much better by possessing Dorchester heights." General Gates was also against it. The commander in chief was evidently for it. He did not appear enough sensible of the importance of Dorchester heights; and probably confided too much in the courage and perseverance of the continental troops and militia. When the votes were called for, the majority were against the attack. The commander in chief could not refrain from showing that he was greatly dissatisfied. But a negative being put on the question, the next point to be considered was, whether they should possess themselves of Dorchester heights, with a view of drawing the enemy out. This was agreed upon; and the conducting of the business was left wholly to general Ward, who with generals Thomas and Spencer, commanded on that quarter. They had been for some time collecting fascines, gabions, &c. unknown to general Washington, in expectation that the same would be wanted for this purpose.

*Colonel Meig's manuscripts, and Dr. Linn's letter, have furnished moft of the above particulars.


« PrejšnjaNaprej »